Sunday, September 13, 2020

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020

Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing. I’m talking about everything. When the pandemic first hit and the majority of the nation went into quarantine/lockdown/whatever you want to call it, there was a rallying cry of love and kindness and solidarity. Snippets of the song from “High School Musical” were heard: “We’re all in this together…” John Krazinski started his Good News Network with stories of how mankind in general was circling the wagons, doing good, loving their neighbor, and caring for everyone in our time of need. I would watch the show every week and big fat ugly cry and just think to myself how proud I was to be a part of humankind and the underlying theme of caring for one another in times of need. 

Fast forward a few months. 

Y’all it’s nasty out here now. Gone is the love and understanding and brotherhood. Instead now we are divided between masks vs. no masks, agendas and conspiracies vs. taking precautions for those compromised, Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal, protests vs. riots, and on and on. Any possible topic or conversation lately is so quickly skewed into an argument I find it’s just easier to not talk to anyone. I see the confederate flag popping up in places I never dreamed I’d see. It literally hurts my heart to see such divisiveness among a nation mere months ago so bonded and compassionate. 

My husband and I are vastly different when it comes to political views. I shan’t go into details because it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that he respects and loves me enough to not pick fights with me over it. And I return the favor. He grew up in a very impoverished community, very conservative, very hard working. I grew up very middle class, one side of the family staunchly Democrat, the other straight-party-voting Republican. Yet I honestly never felt division at any family gathering. Maybe I was too busy dancing to Nan’s Village People records and playing Yahtzee with my cousins to pay attention to such things, but the underlying fact is this: if the adults disagreed, we kids never felt it. Now I feel like parents are priming their children for political battle straight out of the womb. 

Just last week I expressed my grief over seeing a confederate flag flown and Paul asked me why it was so upsetting. He wasn’t picking a fight, he genuinely wanted to know why a piece of fabric made me cry. I gave him a history lesson, told him to do some research of his own if he still had questions, shared with him why it’s such a symbol of hate and racism. He listened. It was that simple. He listened. 

I know that on such topics as the President and masks, I’m probably not going to change your mind. You probably aren’t going to change mine either. If you feel strongly enough to tell me your view and do it with intelligence, I will listen to you tell me why you feel a certain way, but in the end if I choose to keep my opinions the same, I will still love you as a human even if we don’t agree. It’s called respect. A few weeks ago I was lamenting to a friend over how my Facebook feed was so full of anger and hate. And in that conversation she revealed to me that she was actually polar opposite of me on a certain topic. I told her I had no idea and we both had a good chuckle about how we remained friends and still love each other even if we have NOTHING in common on this topic. And in thinking about it, among my group of friends from high school, I am the lone liberal. Yet I love those women with so much of my heart and I would move heaven and earth to help them. And I think if we, as a people, would set aside the details that divide and look into the heart of the person next to them, we’d be better off. 

I keep hearing the words from a song on the “Hamilton” soundtrack over and over in my head: Are we a nation of states? What’s the state of our nation?” We are indeed a nation of states, but the state of our nation is….sad, perhaps even what I’d call dire. We all need a bandaid, a hug, maybe a kiss on the forehead, and some good old fashioned love and respect to our fellow man. 

We aren’t here by accident. Remember who we are. We, the people……need each other. 

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We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...